Legion representatives and others assisted dozens of veterans during Vets GSA’s NYC Veterans Networking and Resource Event at the New York Downtown Marriott on March 5. Participants braved wet, wintery conditions to attend and hear from various speakers, have roundtable discussions, pursue jobs and find the resources they need.
Offering an event with multiple services under one roof should become the norm for today’s veterans, said Scott Davidson, event co-founder and member of The American Legion’s Small Business Task Force. “Veterans need resources all in one place,” he said.
Veterans sought information about VA claims and answers to questions about American Legion services and programs.
Prior to the event, fairs and conferences have focused on veteran job seekers or small business owners. “I really wanted to bring together veteran service organizations, businesses, non-profits and government agencies to provide a full business solution to veterans whether they are seeking help starting a business, seeking counseling, looking for a home loan or interested in employment,” Davidson said. “It’s everything a veteran needs to thrive and grow.”
Veterans at the event connected with representatives from Marine For Life, Army For Life, The American Legion, Team Rubicon and the other organizations. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. (retired) Loree Sutton, commissioner of the New York Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, praised everyone in their efforts to put the multi-faceted event together. “I am delighted to participate in today’s milestone event, and applaud the efforts of all who made today possible.”
Another distinguished guest speaker was Justin Constantine, a retired Marine who became a motivational speaker after recovering from serious injuries he suffered while deployed in Iraq. Serving as one of the event’s partners, Constantine urged veterans in the crowd to continue to seek assistance in areas of their lives where they feel they need help.
One participant came to the event looking for advice from The American Legion. Edward Perry asked Anthony G. DiNatale, one of the Legion representatives on hand, what could be done about his grandfather’s post in Texas, which has withstood dwindling membership since his grandfather’s passing. Perry said he hopes to restore the post and its original building. If he is able to successfully revitalize the post, Edwards said he would like rename it in honor of his late grandfather.
“That’s why we are here,” DiNatale said. “To assist the veterans in any way we can.”
Davidson said he was glad everyone remained dedicated to making the event as successful as possible, given the weather. He said he would like to see it used as a model for other cities.“This was really a team effort,” he said. “We take care of our own. Vets will always take care of other vets.”
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